Dakota County Library celebrated its 50th anniversary back in April with a fine forgiveness event. Overdue fees can add up and result in people being blocked from the library. The forgiveness event is about removing that barrier and getting more people back to the library.
Based on the numbers, it was an overwhelming success:
- Across the entire Dakota County Library system, 16,000 people had fines forgiven, including 1,650 people here in West St. Paul at Wentworth Library.
- The system saw 342 new library accounts opened (a 25% increase from normal), including 49 new library users at Wentworth.
- All the library’s usage numbers were up, including more than 5,500 visits to Wentworth library during the week, a boost from normal traffic at Wentworth.
“As a kid we did not have the resources to buy a lot of books and practically everything I read came from the library. I’ve always been a bookworm thanks to Wentworth!”Library Patron
“Nationally, public libraries are looking at fines because we’ve come to recognize they are a barrier to service,” Dakota County Library Director Margaret Stone told the Hastings Star Gazette.
Overdue fines don’t actually encourage people to return materials on time, and users still have to pay for materials that are lost or never returned.
Last year the St. Paul Public Library removed overdue fines, and while the Dakota County Library isn’t ready for that yet, Fine Forgiveness Week is a big step forward to gather data and get people to engage or re-engage with the library.